The Bombay High Court yesterday reduced by three years the trial court’s sentence awarded to Abdul Karim Telgi, who was convicted in the multi-crore stamp-paper scam that broke in 1995.
The court reduced Telgi’s sentence, for cheating and forgery, from 10 years to seven. Co-accused Sanjay Gaikwad was convicted for criminal conspiracy, but due to procedural technicalities, he was acquitted yesterday. The court set aside Telgi’s conviction for the offence of counterfeiting government stamps.
Justice RC Chavan noted that some sections of the Indian Penal Code invoked by the trial judge ‘may not be apt’. Chavan observed while acquitting Gaikwad, “There is absolutely no evidence about Gaikwad’s complicity in the conspiracy, and evidence sought to be created by appellant Telgi is contrived.”
Besides Telgi and Gaikwad, the court had also convicted one Ramratan Soni. Soni and Gaikwad were represented by advocate IA Bagaria and Percy Singh, while Telgi was represented by Apeksha Vora.
The court modified Soni’s conviction from ‘possession of instruments or materials for counterfeiting government stamps’, to ‘making or possessing counterfeit seals with intent to commit forgery’.
“Genuine special adhesive stamps were fraudulently obtained and then impressed with forged rubber stamps of the Extended Sales Counter and Proper Officer at Bandra. Since there is no complaint of theft or misappropriation, no charge could be made,” Chavan said. He aslo observed that inability to explain the source of the stamps does not constitute an offence.
The court did however add that putting the rubber stamp on it did amount to cheating and forgery. “Criminal trials are not meant for dealing with any wrong, but dealing with specific offences as defined in relevant law,” Chavan said.
Though the Bombay High Court has modified Telgi’s sentence in this case, several other cases are pending against him in other courts.